Building ATLAS in Minecraft

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


1) This project will enable primary and secondary school children to build the ATLAS detector as a world map in the computer game Minecraft. We plan to build the ATLAS detector, experimental halls, cavern, and nearby aboveground buildings, with the aim of educating the children about particle physics, the detectors and overall scientific goals of the LHC.

2) Once this is achieved, we will then freely distribute the resulting map, with the aim for it to be used in classroom education about ATLAS and the LHC. We are particularly interested in using it as an inspirational teaching tool to introduce particle physics to primary and secondary school children.

1) The overall impact of the project will be to engage and inspire school children, teachers, parents and the public, and introduce them to the world of particle physics experiments. The project has the potential to communicate our science in a fun way; the scale of the LHC and the ATLAS detector are awe-inspiring, and the world of Minecraft provides a highly-interactive media by which young and old can access the accelerator and detector.

2) We have the potential to reach an extremely large and diverse audience. Minecraft is a very popular game (23 million people bought the PC/Mac version of the game:, which is played by very young children to adults. The public will be able to visit the ATLAS detector in Minecraft, as the files will be made freely available.

3) After an initial setup phase the project will be driven by school children, including primary school children. The schools, students and teachers involved in the project will gain a sense of what it means to plan and build projects on the scale of the LHC and its detectors, and will also develop a sense of ownership of ATLAS in Minecraft. They will gain an understanding of particle physics concepts, detectors and goals, and have a chance to present their work to primary school children.

4) ATLAS in Minecraft will provide young students and the general public the possibility to discuss the detectors, the LHC and their purpose. We intend to develop the project for educational use such that it draws in the students and the public, invites them to explore, and leads to further questioning about the world of particle physics.

5) The ATLAS in Minecraft project can be used as a testbed for future STFC outreach efforts based on popular games such as Minecraft. As a result of this project we can consider building a full LHC accelerator complex with all its experiments or other large STFC facilities such as the Diamond Light Source, large telescope arrays, or even a base on the moon, and to then invite the public to visit and take part in our science.

Planned Impact

Via Prof. Parker's contacts to Microsoft and Minecraft Education we plan to distribute the end product via the Minecraft educational web sites, to reach the widest possible audience of students and educators. At the national level we will use our professional contacts to advertise the project to other Particle Physics groups and schools in the UK. Internationally we will communicate and present the project when it is finalised to ATLAS and also CERN, and use their public engagement channels to raise awareness of the project via their existing contacts in national newspapers, science magazines, blogs and web sites. We have already made initial contacts with the ATLAS, CERN and STFC public engagement offices to help publicise the project at both a national and international level, and have received very positive feedback (see attachments).


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